The strange case of Germans in Holland

He said he was sorry for having made me listen to his stories for almost 2 hours. I don’t believe him. In my opinion, these – actually first – words he directly spoke into my direction showed just another attempt from his side to find another target, willing to listen to his glorious life, including all achievements. Starting from the time when he was 15 and stole his dad’s fancy shiny new car for a ride. He is grinning mischievously when he announces that they caught him speeding 260km/h in a 30km/h zone (or 62 in a 30 zone, I really tried to not pay attention). From his driving experiences, he is taking us (me and those other less fortunate people who carelessly chose to sit in the back of the coach) on a rapid journey throughout the first 22 years of his life, including his time abroad (yeah mate, I was in Austraaalia) to his promised 60,000$ tennis scholarship in the U.S.A and finally to his success in seducing women, preferably Ukrainians.

Of course he studies “International Business and Management Studies” here in Groningen. Most of them do. It looks good on their CV when it says you have studied in a foreign country. But they barely do so. Many Germans I met in my years in Groningen (though I understand it is the same in the Germanized cities of Maastricht and Venlo) study in German in the Netherlands, avoiding any language barrier by not socializing with the natives and forming sub societies. You can see them on their bikes in groups of 5-10, invading the supermarkets (Aldi more often than Albert Heijn) and especially on the buses and trains towards Groningen on Sunday evening, when they collectively complain about the teachers in Groningen, the leisure activities in Groningen and most commonly, the non-germans in Groningen. That fine young man who made me listen is an example par excellence. Openly, he led half of the coach know that his main reason of having chosen the German track over the Dutch one was due to avoiding “working with those lazy Portuguese or Koreans” (his words) who would most certainly cause him to fail any group project. In addition to this remotely racist comment, he continued complaining about the injustice of the Dutch government in supporting the Dutch students only, the current method of increasing the tuition fees each year and concluding with the statement that “we foreign students cannot earn money here and need to take a credit to finance the studies”.

He then paused a second and decided to proudly present to us his latest purchase, a 70€ swimming trunks, which he bought from the 1,500€ budget he is receiving on a monthly base from his father to get “the best education possible” (again, his words).
People like him do not want to be in the Netherlands I believe. They often don’t like it here much, but it is cool to say that one is studying/living abroad and barely anyone is considering staying after graduation.For us, the Netherlands is like a cash-cow: We take advantage of its benefits and once we are saturated, we harvest other places.

In the special case of the fine young bloke who unintentionally spoke for many of his kind, I am confident that the Netherlands can easily spare his departure. One final note before the end of this post: When he apologized, I told him I was going to blog about him; he became overly excited but asked me to not mention any names. No problem, Tim…


PS.: I have uploaded a new SOCIALVIBE cause – Blood:Water Mission. Do the activities and help communities in Africa continue to fight back HIV/AIDS. That is more important than anything else!

About jlinketraveller

Traveller and Writer - none of 'em uber successful! View all posts by jlinketraveller

5 responses to “The strange case of Germans in Holland

  • sdherrington

    Nice post on a subject I’ve been thinking about for some time. Fortunately I think this ‘bloke’ is in the minority of ‘foreign student leeches’. It’s certainly seems true, Germans in Groningen largely stick with other Germans. Major reason being because it’s easier and social connections more instant… from my own experience one has to be REALLY persistent to integrate at all with dutch social crowds. To be fair, many German students do try to have that ‘cultural exchange’ but the Dutch certainly don’t make it easy. They’re quick to complain about the lack of integration from German students, but ask them whether they themselves have ever bothered to invite German students into their Dutch circle and you’ll get a no more often than not. It’s a two way thing this exchange… the host culture are just as responsible in facilitiating integration as the incoming ‘foreign’ population. To my knowledge, the host population actively helping foreign populations intergrate into their culture happens nowhere, in fact much resentment is shown and Groningen is no exception.

  • utrecht

    I think this is a situation that occurs in every country, not something that occurs only in NL. At least from I my own experience I can say this, I have lived in 3 different countries, and have been on both sides. You just tend to stick together when you are companions living in a different country or being from the same country. There is always a sort of clash between cultures, the feeling of being away from home etc. Or that you are at home and it tends to be easier to connect with the people that are from there as well, because you understand each other better… Im not saying that this is good, its just part of the human way of connecting to each other etc…

  • mariela

    hahah oh…. julian! no wonder “poor” guy was all offended! hahaha but how sucky that you had to listen to him.. for … 2 hours??? god…!

    well i love it, absolutely true.

    • Een Duitse

      Why write about the Germans who are not integrating? What about the increasing number of PhD´s, Eramus, international students from countries all over the world?? They live in student houses and never talk more than two sentences in one year with Dutch people. Me and other, well, approximately 500 students from Germany studying Psychology learned Dutch to follow the Dutch programme, got a job in a Dutch company, got to know a lot of Dutch friends and celebrate your queensday (proudly stating we like the country we study in) when being an Erasmus abroad.
      You complain about Germans not being open, well take a look around and not only search for the worst example of Germans you can find.
      There are clearly some rascist tendencies in your article. Do you actually want to get rid of them or areyou secretly very content that they turned out to be true (oh hell yeah, this Tim is one of a kind! Clearly all Germans MUST be like him!!!). I would like to invite you to come for a beer in my German world in Groningen. I´m sure you would love it, and yould be ashamend of yourself. Of course, positive examples wouldn´t be worth writing about…

      • jlinketraveller

        First of all, thank you very much for reading my blog and especially commenting on it. May I ask how you have found my blog after all?
        Well, let us talk about it: My main reason for having written about Germans not integrating derived from having had to listen to the guy in my story big times. He is not unique in his way, as I have come across many Germans of “his kind” over the past three years living in Groningen. Of course, I have also met lots of people you described in your comment, those who almost fully integrate into the society and celebrate “my” Queen’s Day” (I wonder whether now is the best time to let you know that I am one of the many many Germans who study in Groningen full time, so your argument on racism hereby has become obsolete). However, it becomes rather obvious among Germans, since we come here in very high quantities. I am not saying that other expats are doing differently, but Germans strike me as an example of how to “colonzise” a place temporarily.
        Hopefully, these remarks have made things a bit clearer. In case you still have questions or comments, I am happy to “work out” things! And who knows, maybe we accidentally meet for a beer at some point in the town, so you can tell me your “German Groningen”!


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